These people have no respect for Sikh Gurdwara
Prominent Sikh lawyer injured in brawl outside temple
A former judge, now a prominent Brampton lawyer, is in hospital with serious stab wounds when a mob turned deadly at a Sikh temple on Friday evening.
Manjit Mangat, 53, is in hospital with multiple stab wounds to his abdomen, thighs and legs and cuts on his face after he was attacked inside the Sikh Lehar Centre, a temple at Bramsteele Rd. near Steeles Ave. and Hwy. 410.
“It was brutal ... he just went outside to calm people down, to tell them the event was cancelled,” Jujhar Mangat, his nephew, said. “The next thing, he was thrown to the ground and viciously attacked.”
Two others were injured and taken to hospital with minor injuries.
Trouble started brewing at the temple Friday afternoon when a crowd of about 150 gathered outside to protest a lecture by Darshan Singh, a Sikh preacher, who was banished from the religion three months ago by priests in India.
He was excommunicated for remarks he made about one of the Sikh gurus while singing hymns at a temple in New York last year.
According to the priests’ edict, Singh, who lives in the Toronto area, is forbidden from speaking at any Sikh institution. But some temples, including the Sikh Lehar Centre, have defied that order and invited him to talk.
There have been large crowds and loud protests by Sikhs at every venue in India and England but no violence.
The Sikh Lehar Center had unsuccessfully tried to organize a talk by the controversial preacher in November too. From the time the dates of his sermons this month were made public, management has been receiving threatening phone calls, said Jujhar.
On Friday afternoon, people started gathering outside the temple at about 3 p.m. Within two hours, there were dozens of men — many dressed in long flowing robes — and some women and Peel Regional Police officers were also called in. Sometime in the afternoon, the temple management announced the event had been cancelled.
“But crowd was just growing and some people even managed to get inside,” said Jujhar, also a lawyer. “My uncle then decided to step outside and tell them that he (Darshan Singh) was not in the temple.”
That was minutes after 6:30 p.m.
According to witnesses, before Mangat could say anything, he was attacked and knocked down. As others rushed to rescue him, turbans flew, blows were exchanged and in the melee, Mangat, who is also a centre member, was stabbed in the abdomen, legs, thighs and had a long gash on his forehead.
There were three police officers present when the scuffle broke out and more officers and a canine unit were called in within minutes.
Const. Samantha Nulle, spokesperson for Peel Police, called it a “large altercation” where 30 to 40 police officers were sent to control the crowd. “With the stabling, it’s now a criminal investigation,” she said, adding that investigators are looking for suspects.
When Jagdish Grewal, editor of Punjabi Post, a newspaper published from Brampton, got to the scene minutes after the stabbing, the temple was overrun by police officers and dogs. “There was chaos. It was unlike anything I’ve see before,” he said.
The incident was reported in the Punjabi language newspapers and was the only topic of conversation on radio shows and other temples all day Saturday. “One way or the other, people feel very strongly about this incident,” said Grewal.
Meanwhile, Harvans Jandali, president of Ontario Sikh and Gurdwara Council, condemned the violence, saying “the fight should have never happened at the temple — that’s a sacred place.”